DOWNLOAD THE FULL MIX HERE A few weeks ago, Dave Lifton and Jeff Giles were bemoaning the new Phil Collins CD, Going Back. Jeff was particularly tortured by Collins’ cover of “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” and I asked (via Twitter) when did cover songs go from novelty to crap? Lifton put the blame squarely on Clive Davis. Personally, I used to find cover songs novel and rather cool — especially when an artist made a cover song all their own. When they just recreated it note for note, it just seemed like a money grab, or a sign that they had run out of ideas and decided to hitch their wagon to a successful song and try to ride that for as long as they could. Alas, it seems more and more artists are doing the later and avoiding the former — but, as you will hear in this week’s mix, there are some exceptions.
“Baba O’Riley,” the Who (Download)
This classic by the Who is a tough on to cover because, well, it’s a classic. And because it is a classic, any attempt to do a note for note recreation will ultimately mean that a band will fall flat on their face. Why? Because songs like “Baba O’Riley” have been so thoroughly ingrained into our collective consciousness, that even causal fans of the song will know every note, every drum fill, and every vocal inflection of the Who’s performance on this song. So, if Train (who have done decent covers of Who songs) decided to bash out a note for note cover, they would just sound like a bar band and, well, disappointment would ensue. So, it’s best to leave well enough alone, right? Not always…
“Baba O’Riley,” Zydecosis (Download)
Now see? This is what I’m talking about. Zydecosis takes “Baba O’Riley” and makes it their own. What was originally a hypnotic song that fused synth and hard rock, becomes almost a working class drinking song in their hands. The result is surprising and almost sublime. Oh, and I must thank the good folks at Coverville for turing me on to this band!
“SexyBack,” Corinne Bailey Rae (Download)
Who ever thought one could take a song like “SexyBack” and make it into a jazzy little number? Well, Corinne Bailey Rae did. What I like about her cover is that she doesn’t delve into irony when covering this song, but rather treats the material as she would a jazz standard.
“SexyBack,” Justin Timberlake (Download)
JT and Timbaland have created a rather inspired dance song that has a very quirky (take ’em to the) chorus. I was never a fan of Justin Timberlake, but I really dig what he’s created on this song. It’s certainly a far cry from his days with N’Sync, and that’s what makes the songs such a surprise.
“Independent Women Part 1,” Destiny’s Child (Download)
Question: Could this be one of the best movie theme songs of the aughts? Well, it certainly had staying power on the charts, and gave DC their most successful single of their career. Where do you go from number one as a group? Yep, solo careers followed by a reunion of sorts and then … solo career. Well, despite the drama among the divas, the group has had an impressive string of hits that will certainly be part of a popular music tapestry for a long long time.
“Independent Women Part 1,” Elbow (Download)
Question: Who is one of the most unlikely group to cover this song? Answer: Elbow. However, Elbow does such a great job taking DC’s pop soul song and making it their own that it’s hard not to smile at the effort. Sure it’s a tongue in cheek, but that’s part of the fun!